How Much Is My Medical Malpractice Claim Worth?
Hospitals and healthcare facilities provide essential services that positively affect and benefit the communities they serve.
However, when a doctor or other healthcare professional makes a mistake constituting medical malpractice, that error can cause severe long-term, even permanent damage to a patient. In the worst cases, such a mistake may even cause death.
Medical malpractice lawsuits seek to hold responsible parties accountable for their actions and to compensate injured parties for the harm they suffered.
If you have suffered injuries resulting from medical malpractice, you may be entitled to financial compensation. You need to know what your medical malpractice claim is worth so you can receive the compensation you deserve.
Medical Malpractice Formula
When someone suffers injuries caused by negligence during a medical procedure, sometimes those injuries cannot be reversed. Instead, medical malpractice lawsuits attempt to compensate injured parties by awarding monetary damages.
The size of the damages award should be enough to make the injured person “whole” or cover any losses they suffered. An award is calculated based on economic damages, such as hospital bills, plus non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.
In rare cases, a court may also award punitive damages where a medical practitioner acted with reckless disregard in the face of known risks.
A court can easily calculate economic damages, and typically both parties can more easily agree when calculating the total compensation required.
Economic damages include:
- Past, current, and future medical expenses;
- Lost wages; and
- Diminished earning capacity if your injuries prevent you from earning higher wages when you return to work.
Future medical expenses may be substantial, depending on the severity of the injury. For long-term or permanent injuries, a person may require ongoing medical services for the rest of their life.
Similarly, if your injuries prevent you from working at your full capacity or from pursuing higher paying job opportunities, you should be appropriately compensated for that loss.
Knowing how to calculate these damages and, more importantly, how to prove them is essential to a successful medical malpractice claim. You should not have to bear the burden of these economic losses. The responsible party should be held accountable and compensate you for the harm you suffered.
Non-economic damages involve calculating pain and suffering caused by medical malpractice. The types of harms that qualify as non-economic damages include:
- Pain and suffering,
- Emotional trauma and distress,
- Loss of enjoyment, and
The law does not clearly define these terms, but it requires that the amount of damages be “fair and reasonable” given the facts of the claim. Parties in a lawsuit often disagree over what constitutes fair and reasonable damages awards.
In extreme cases, judges and juries will sometimes award punitive damages. Rather than compensating someone for their harms or injuries, punitive damages punish parties for their wrongful conduct. However, courts will grant punitive damages only in rare and extreme circumstances.
Punitive damages require proof that a defendant knew of substantial risks to a patient’s well-being and proceeded despite those risks.
North Carolina has passed laws governing the size of damages awards in medical malpractice lawsuits. Monetary awards for non-economic damages may not exceed $500,000. If a court awards punitive damages, the amount may not exceed three times the amount of actual or compensatory damages or $250,000, whichever is greater.
How Much Is the Average Medical Malpractice Settlement?
The National Practitioner Databank released a report in 2018 that tracked medical malpractice lawsuits across the country. The study found that plaintiffs received more than $4 billion in damages from medical malpractice lawsuits in 2018.
Monetary damages averaged around $350,000 per claim. In North Carolina, the average payout was $356,639 per claim. Medical malpractice damages payouts totaled more than $50,000,000 for the year.
Do Most Medical Malpractice Cases Settle?
According to the National Practitioner Databank report, 96.5% of medical malpractice cases settled without going to trial. Only 3.5% of the cases proceeded to trial. However, medical malpractice cases are less likely to settle than other types of personal injury claims.
Doctors and hospitals want to keep insurance rates low and protect their practices. Even if doctors or hospitals agree to settlement negotiations, they will often dispute damages calculations and delay payouts to injured patients.
An experienced medical malpractice attorney can manage these negotiations and put pressure on doctors and hospitals to provide adequate compensation.
What Are the Odds of Winning a Medical Malpractice Suit?
Building a successful medical malpractice claim requires significant investments of time and money. Additionally, proving the elements of a claim can often be extremely difficult. As a result of these challenges and other changes in the law, plaintiffs who take their cases to trial succeed only 21% of the time.
Fortunately, most medical malpractice claims settle out of court. Plaintiffs receive monetary damage awards more often when the claim settled out of court than when a case goes to trial.
Should I Hire a Medical Malpractice Lawyer?
Medical malpractice lawsuits can be difficult to win. Recent studies show that patients who file lawsuits against a medical provider have a difficult time proving their case and receiving monetary damages.
Several factors affect a plaintiff’s chances of winning a case, including:
- Complex medical facts and procedures,
- Facing aggressive insurance companies,
- Difficulty proving a doctor or medical practitioner’s liability, and
- Costly and time-consuming court processes.
Fortunately, patients who hire an experienced medical malpractice lawyer have a better chance of receiving financial compensation. Survey results of medical malpractice cases show that plaintiffs who hire a qualified attorney received payouts nearly twice as often as plaintiffs who do not.
Skilled medical malpractice attorneys know what facts and information you will need to prove your doctor’s negligence. Your lawyer will also help you determine the extent of your injuries and help you accurately calculate the damages you suffered.
Proving damages requires complex calculations, deciphering technical information, and lengthy negotiations with other parties. Having a skilled attorney on your side will increase your odds of winning your case and receiving fair compensation.
Contact an Attorney Today
If you or someone you know suffered injuries due to medical malpractice, you should contact an experienced medical malpractice lawyer to determine your legal options.
The medical malpractice lawyers at Dawson & Albritton have represented hundreds of injured individuals and have recovered millions in settlements and verdicts for their clients. Call our offices at 252-752-2485 or fill out an online form today to schedule a free consultation.